Here's how Tommy Wiseau lost a $700,000 lawsuit

Aries

Administrator
I've been posting updates about the Room Full of Spoons documentary for the past five years here on r/movies & r/theroom - I was in touch with some of the crew for a while - and the following are all of my updates put into chronological order.

I suspect we'll hear more about the events surrounding this years-long court case going forward (Tommy testified on the bench for nearly 2 days, and you know that shit is comedy gold), but for now, here is the most complete sequence of events for anyone who is OOTL.

Not all of this is completely necessary information, but my god, the little details are hilarious.

Some time around 2002, prior to filming 'The Room'

Schklair: “Umm…you want me to direct your project?”
Wiseau: “No! I am director!”
Schklair: “Yeah, you’re the director, whatever. But you want me to direct your movie for you?”
Wiseau: “Yes, please.”
April/May 2011

June 2011

  • Tommy flips out after discovering that they had interviewed Schklair (someone he explicitly told them to stay away from).
  • After traveling to New York to meet with Tommy and continue filming, they receive an email (from Tommy using a pseudonym) stating that he was no longer interested in participating, and wouldn't be in New York.
  • Despite the setback, they continue to NY to film b-roll footage, and randomly find Tommy eating at a deli.
March 2014

  • Three years into filming, the documentary filmmakers reconnect with Tommy & Greg at a book signing. They all have dinner together, and Tommy encourages them to complete the film.
February 2015

  • James Franco acquires the film rights to The Room co-star Greg Sestero's tell-all book, The Disaster Artist

    , and starts shooting his movie. It is later revealed that Tommy sold the rights to his "life-story" to Franco as well.

  • Tommy suddenly has a reverse-course, and threatens legal action while trying to shut down the documentary Kickstarter campaign to finance the film, forcing them to remove the trailer and any mention of Wiseau.
January 2016

  • Filming of Room Full of Spoons is completed.
February 2016

  • Tommy Wiseau preemptively attacks the documentary film, going so far as to post a video on youtube

    accusing the filmmakers of "bulling" [sic] and exploiting 'The Room' fans.
April 2016

  • 'Room Full of Spoons' premiers at theaters in Canada, the UK and the US.
  • Further distribution of the doc is impeded for unknown reasons. Kickstarter contributors who were promised DVD copies do not receive them.
June 2016

"We've attempted to come to an agreement with Mr. Wiseau for over a year now with royalty offers, and have even made numerous edits and revisions to the film for the sake of coming to a compromise. Despite our best efforts, it would seem the only thing that would satisfy him is to have final cut of our film. In addition to approximately 40 cuts and edits that he wants us to make to the film, Tommy's requests include making the documentary '60% more positive,' and claims that James Franco said we should remove Sandy Schklair from the documentary entirely ... Because of the above, Tommy Wiseau and Wiseau Films have been attempting to block 'Room Full of Spoons' by contacting venues and festivals claiming that our film violates copyright laws, claims that are untrue ... It is likely that the independent theaters where you have watched 'The Room' have received a letter from Wiseau Films warning that if they screen 'Room Full of Spoons' Tommy will instantly ban 'The Room' from ever screening there again."
  • Theater workers/owners report receiving letters that read as follows:
Subject: LICENSE / NOT GRANTED / THE ROOM SCREENING Hello [name redacted], We apologize for any inconvenience. At this time we can't and will not be granting you the License to screen "The Room." due to conflict of Screenings. Once this is resolved we will let you know. We apologize, Please cancel Screening. Thank you for your correlation. [sic] Sincerely, Raul Adm. Wiseau-Films
"His main concern was that he claimed we infringed on his copyright. Here in Canada there is a thing called fair deal for any type of doc or review – you can use certain copyrighted materials in certain contexts. In one of our conversations, he said he would license The Room to us for $500. So I was like, ok. And I told him that I knew that as soon as I’d hang up, he’d send an email asking for more money. And literally the next day he asked for $995. And I was like, that’s fine, I can do that, send me an invoice. He absolutely refused to send me an invoice, instead telling me to go on the website and click ‘donate’ and donate $995. I can’t bring that to court. There’s no receipt or invoice. And now we’re at a point where he’s asking for $150,000 for licensing. And he’s been asking for numerous changes done to the movie. He saw the movie well over a year ago and had a small list of demands, so we negotiated, saying we’d do five of the eight. Then he came back with another 20 changes and another 27 changes. It was never ending."
September 2016

“This whole saga with Tommy started about two weeks ago. We received these emails from an apparent lawyer of Wiseau films saying that we’d breached copyright. It was really funny because all the emails were misspelled and had really terrible grammar, and if you read it in the Tommy Wiseau accent it sounds exactly like Tommy. For a week and a half I [asked] the lawyers to send me information and keep asking questions and made numerous phone calls every single day. I was just engaging them constantly because I knew that every single time I engaged them it would cost Tommy money. There’s a certain irony that we’ve prided ourselves on getting stuff through the censors, sort of side-stepping any potential legal issues — when Bruce LaBruce’s film L.A. Zombie got banned we screened one that was three times worse and we got it through the censors fine ... The first time we’re forced to pull something is because of the world’s worst filmmaker; I just think that’s so ironic.”
May 2017

  • After six months of silence from The Room Full of Spoons filmmakers, it was announced that the film would be released on DVD in June, and a preorder page went live.
June 2017

  • June had nearly come to a close and people were wondering when they would receive shipping notifications. On June 25th, the filmmakers posted an update to Twitter

    , once again saying they had been hit with a legal setback by Tommy, and had received a court ordered injunction blocking its release.
Mid 2017-2019

November 25, 2019

  • Light is finally shed on the court proceedings when the documentary filmmakers post a court transcript

    .

  • Tommy decided to represent himself in court after firing his previous 4 (or possibly 5) lawyers, and asked for the case to be dismissed... because he doesn't have a lawyer!
  • The judge is tired of his shit, and says no. He recommends that, if Tommy wants good legal representation, he should pay his lawyers an appropriate retainer. His previous lawyer quit when Wiseau offered him $25k for what would normally be a $100-150k job.
  • The judge doesn't mince words. He states that Tommy is obviously trying to block the release of the documentary by using endless litigation, and sets a trial date for January 2020. Additionally, he requires Tommy to hire lawyers for the trial, specifically so that he doesn't use "lack of representation" as an excuse to throw it out.
December 10, 2019

  • Another court transcript

    is released.

  • Once again, Tommy comes to court without a lawyer.
  • He tries three different times to have the trial dismissed, delayed, or changed. The judge appropriately tells him to fuck off. He then says that he wants to hire a lawyer that used to work with his opponent's lawyers. Again appropriately, the judge tells him that's a stupid thing to do, and recommends that Tommy hire someone else.
  • Tommy then accuses the documentary filmmakers of forging documents and tampering with evidence. When the judge asks him to point out which documents have been tampered with, Tommy is unable to do so. Additionally, Tommy refuses to give his address to the judge, calling such a request "laughable," and submits a PO box address instead.
  • When his attempts to delay the trial fail miserably, Tommy claims that the documentary filmmakers can't use quotes from "The Disaster Artist" in their film, and the judge allows for a week of cross-examinations.
January 3rd, 2020

  • Another court transcript is released


  • Tommy still has a lawyer problem. After his previous 5 lawyers quit because he refused to pay them, he sends his 6th lawyer to court in an attempt to "totally withdraw" the case, claiming that...
  • the Canadian court system is stupid ("stacked against foreigners," to be precise).
  • he's obviously going to lose the case.
  • evidence has been tampered with (even though Tommy refuses to say what evidence he's talking about).
  • The judge is taking none of his shit, and refuses to drop the case. In legalese, he rips Tommy a new asshole, telling him that the court has bent over backwards to accommodate his requests, and that he has dug his own grave.
  • He reiterates that he knows Tommy is using the courts to stall the release of the film, and that if he dropped the case, Tommy would just file another lawsuit in a different town, once again potentially blocking the release of the documentary for years to come.
  • Tommy asks if he can testify via teleconferencing, and the judge refuses, stating that Tommy is so unintelligible and confusing, he shouldn't even be in a courtroom without his lawyer physically by his side. To quote the judge, "My experience with Mr. Wiseau over the last two years is that communication with him can be challenging."
  • Because Tommy is a very stable genius, he refused to pay the costs for court transcripts and trial records, forcing the documentary filmmakers to pay for them instead. Between this and his refusal to pay his lawyers, the judge is obviously not happy with Tommy's cheap-ass.
  • The cherry on top: Tommy gave the judge the name and phone number of a witness he wanted to testify at the trial, but when contacted, the witness had no idea what the judge was talking about, and didn't even know about the trial.
  • The case is tried, and the judge is expected to hand down his verdict within 2-3 months.
Present Day

  • The judge hands down his verdict


  • He says Tommy used SLAPP suits to try to prevent the film from being rightfully released, and that the documentary filmmakers did not break any copyright laws or harm Wiseau's "reputation."
  • He orders Wiseau to pay $500,000 for lost revenue, and 200,000 CAD for punitive damages. In the Judge's own words, Tommy was “oppressive and outrageous” in his litigation. He also hints that the blocking of the film may have had something to do with the release of The Disaster Artist movie, and the fact that Tommy had already sold "the rights to his life-story" to James Franco.
EDIT: Corrected the January court documents link, and just wanted to say thanks for the awards, obligatory "RIP my inbox," and no, I'm not giving you a TL;DR.


 
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